I only had my maternal grandfather for a small period of six years of my life but the memories that I have of those years will always remain fresh. Being the first grandchild in this side of the family I had the privileges of a star where I was the center of everyone’s attention & got away with a lot of things; & the helm of these grants was the blessings of my Nana Abu sometimes to the annoyance of my mother (who was hell bent on not letting me get away by capitalizing on my single child status). The memories of his treating me goodies, I being glued to him while my parents were off to work, he volunteering trying to put me to sleep during late nights when I refused to sleep while my mother had her night shifts in the hospital, & I having his uninterrupted attention while I showed my useless skills at my musical instruments; often comes back to me.
With the passage of time he has turned into an ideal more than the adored grandparent I knew as a kid. Looking back at his life never fails to amaze me. Coming from a well established family of Jammu & Kashmir, a graduate of Aligarh College who joined the freedom movement along with his father giving it all his energy. Then on his father’s instruction he had to leave his land, fulfilling the duties of being the eldest child & make sure his mother & four siblings would be safe in the new land which would be their home for the rest of their lives. From here on he balanced his life between the freedom struggle & settling his family. Then he had to deal with the loss of one of his younger brother to whom he was attached the most.
He was a very progressive father, treated all his children equally & gave them full liberty to choose which ever profession they wanted to pursue. From his letters to his children, one sees his far-sightedness as he gives them guide-lines how to face life standing firmly on their ideals & never backing out. On the other hand one sees a soft hearted father who knows his children’s date sheets by heart & secretly worrying like hell how his daughter is going to cross the heavy trafficked road between her medical school campus & hostel.
Fast-forwarding to my memory lane. I saw the peak of his strength in 1993 when the baby of the family (my youngest uncle aged 25) came home wrapped in the flag of the country on 15th January; result of the Sui (Dera-Bughti) operation in Baluchistan. By this time Nana Abu had a stroke & had lost his speech. Even in this condition he was the pillar to which his devastated family was clinging for strength. Without being able to say a word he consoled them trying to pull them out of their grief & back to life. In all this he kept his pain to himself, something I guess he was now used to. And maybe this time is was a bit too much as he followed his son just five months after his son on 10th July 1993.
Everyone has to leave this world when their time comes, but some leave such legacies that they live among those they have left behind forever. My grandfather lives on & I feel him around when I read books from his collection, when I read the notes that he has scribbled on their sides, his letters, articles & most of all when I see my mother pass on his bringing up & principles on to the next generation in a similar fashion.